As a result of the major attack on Israel by the militant Palestinian organization Hamas, the Federal Development Ministry has temporarily stopped its cooperation with the Palestinian territories. “These attacks on Israel are a terrible turning point,” said Development Minister Svenja Schule (SPD) on Sunday. “We will therefore examine our entire commitment to the Palestinian territories.” According to the ministry, support payments are “not currently being made”.
Debate about German payments to Palestine
The debate about German support for the Palestinians had previously broken out. Promised payments amounting to millions must “now be stopped immediately,” explained CDU foreign politician Roderich Kiesewetter. Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) demanded a decision from Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens). The left-wing politician Gregor Gysi, however, defended aid to the Palestinians.
According to the Development Ministry, Germany is “one of the largest donors in the Palestinian territories”. For this year and next, the development commitments total 125 million euros. In addition, there are additional funds “in a similar amount” promised for UN and non-governmental organizations as well as humanitarian aid from the Federal Foreign Office for 2023.
“There is no direct financing of the Palestinian Authority”
The ministry emphasized that any support for the Palestinian territories would be “project-related”, for example for water supply and waste disposal, the health system, food security and the creation of jobs. “There is no direct financing of the Palestinian Authority.” Aid to the Palestinians is often also in Israel’s interest, the ministry also said.
Hamas launched a major attack on Israel on Saturday morning. Gunmen also killed civilians and took an unknown number of people hostage. The Israeli authorities recently spoke of at least 600 dead, 2,000 injured and around 100 kidnapped.
Lindner demands a decision from Baerbock
“The terror is shocking. We shouldn’t just respond to him with words,” said Finance Minister Lindner to “Bild am Sonntag”. “I am therefore hoping for a recommendation from the Foreign Minister as to how the German state should proceed with financial support for the Palestinians in light of this violence.” This could be implemented “immediately”.
“Terrorism and anti-Semitism cannot be financed with German tax money,” explained the President of the German-Israeli Society (DIG), Volker Beck. However, he did not advocate stopping payments, but rather stricter conditions and controls. “This requires clear decisions from the Budget Committee and the Bundestag for the 2024 federal budget.”
Gysi: Support Palestinian organizations, “but not Hamas”
Left-wing politician Gysi warned against stopping aid payments. “Palestinian organizations can and must be supported, but Hamas cannot,” he told Spiegel. “The attack only comes from her.” The Hamas attack “can only be strongly condemned. Many deaths and injuries are never acceptable, the hostage-taking is unacceptable.”